Throughout everyday life. In the section heading, “Morality and

Throughout the semester, we have focused on many topics that proposed critical questions to challenge our ethical views and our ability to apply them to everyday life. In the section heading, “Morality and Social Policy” one of the very relevant controversies brought into question is the topic of abortion. In today’s society, the legality and morality of abortion is constantly brought into question and is a hot topic in the world of politics. The conservative views and proposals of the United States’ new administration has ignited an outright war between advocators of pro-life and pro-choice movements. Abortion is a complicated issue because of the many personal factors that go into making that decision. While I think that abortion may be morally wrong after a certain stage in pregnancy, I still strongly feel that abortion is a body autonomy issue that only the pregnant woman in question has the authority to choose what is right for her. In the section previously mentioned, John T. Noonan, Jr. and Mary Anne Warren outline their extremely polar views on the issue of abortion in their essays, “An Almost Absolute Value in History,” and “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion,” respectively. John T. Noonan, Jr. was a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Ninth Circuit Court after previously teaching law at the University of California at Berkeley and at Notre Dame Law School. Regarding abortion, Noonan follows a conservative philosophy that coincides with the opinions of Christian theologists. In his essay, “An Almost Absolute Value in History,” he mainly focuses on the question of when human life begins and what determines humanity. Noonan believes that human life begins at conception and indicates his refusal to discriminate based on a being’s potential at any stage of life. He considers 5 commonly proposed distinctions of humanity and speculates from his “pro-life” point of view. The first argument he addresses is the question of dependence and viability. The inviability of an embryo is often the basis for denying its humanity but, as Noonan points out, viability is disputable. The viability of the fetus does not end after birth because even an infant is dependent on the mother for survival. Another point brought up is the argument that humanity depends on formation by experiences. Noonan opposes this notion of the fetus being “unformed” by explaining that an embryo is responsive to touch after only 8 weeks, and that is enough for him to claim valid experience. Also countering the argument that a parent does not feel or identify the same perception of personality in a fetus as they would a living child,  Noonan points out that feeling is yet another unreliable source to prove the lack of humanity because of society’s continuous failures throughout history to recognize humanity in others because of differences like language, skin color, religion, or sex. The two final arguments Noonan brings up refers to the fetus’ physical and social visibility. The case against recognition because a fetus cannot be seen or touched is dismissed by his faith of ensoulment. Noonan’s religious beliefs prompted his acceptance of the human soul and how “sight is even more untrustworthy than feeling” (Noonan 401). Social visibility is a topic used to devalue the identity of a fetus because of its inability to speak or act as a member in society however, Noonan points out that basing humanity on social recognition could be dangerous. He explains that using this argument could allow for the denial of any individual’s or group’s status in society and would in turn promote prejudice and dehumanization leading to “the destruction of human beings” (401). Continuing his philosophy, Noonan questions the secular view of the average philosopher. He points out that anyone who assumes the right to decide who deserves death surmises the existence of their own humanity. He also questions the philosophers belief of whether there is a right and wrong way to determine moral questions. Coming to the end of his argument, Noonan states our actions and morals are decided by the account of probabilities and declares that biological probabilities are what determine humanity. He rules that the evolving potential gained when a being receives the genetic code is what determines humanization and that receival happens at conception. Relating back to the topic of abortion, he defends the fetus’ inability to speak for itself and its right to life. Noonan states that the only Christian explanation in favor of abortion is in the rare chance of self-defense where the mother is in danger and the fetus was already unlikely to survive. Otherwise, Noonan and the Christian community believe that the mother choosing her life over the life of her unborn child exhibits cruelty and selfishness. To summarize, Noonan believes that the fetus is an equal human life due to its possible potential and should be ultimately given the chance to live even if it requires self-sacrifice out of love from the mother. On the other hand, in her essay “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion,” Mary Anne Warren provides an argument that opposes the ideology of John T. Noonan, Jr. Mary Anne Warren was a philosophy professor at San Francisco State University and commonly defended the topic of abortion. In this essay, Warren separates the biological and moral sense of being human and gives her definition of humanity. She explains that the genetic sense of “human” is biologically being part of the species Homo sapiens while the moral sense of “human” would be “a full-fledged member of the moral community” (Warren 406). She applies this to the anti-abortion argument that if it is wrong to kill innocent human beings and fetuses are innocent human beings, it is then wrong to kill fetuses. If “human” is used in the same sense in both statements, the argument assumes that either it is wrong to kill simply because of the Homo sapien classification or that a fetus is included in the moral community–both of which are debatable. Warren also explains that Noonan was only concerned with the genetic definition of a human, lacking the argument for the inclusion of the fetus in the moral sense. Noonan’s assertion of the potential of the fetus only offers the prospect of the fetus potentially becoming human in the moral sense. Warren explains that being human in the moral sense means being a member of the moral community–which is the set of beings with full moral rights and consists of all and only people. However, solely being genetically human is not sufficient for inclusion in the moral community. Warren’s concept of personhood or “morally human” requires the traits: consciousness and the ability to feel pain, reasoning, self-motivated activity, the capacity to communicate, and the presence of self-awareness. This concept includes that all and only people have full moral rights, and since a fetus is a being which is not yet a person, they cannot attain full moral rights. Giving moral rights to a being which is not a person, like a fetus, assigns impractical moral obligations that are unable to be fulfilled. This concept, however, brings up two questions that Warren encounters: How far advanced does a human have to be before beginning to have a right to life by virtue? And to what extent, if any, does the potential of a fetus for becoming a person allow some of the same rights? She believes that the fetus must fit the attributes she previously described as defining personhood and whether the subject is biologically human, possesses recognizable features, or can simply survive outside the uterus, are not enough argument for defining a human deserving of moral rights. Additionally, simply the potential for ascribing moral rights could not come before the woman’s right to an abortion at any time because the woman is a full-fledged member of the moral community and the fetus is not. The rights of an actual person surpass those of only a potential person. Warren concludes this argument by explaining that while ending a pregnancy in a late stage may be seen as indecent, the prevailing rights of the woman prevent it from being immoral. On the topic of infanticide, she believes that when an infant is born, the rights of the mother can no longer affect the outcome of the baby. Our society values infants and many are willing to give the baby a chance rather than destroying it. Warren further explains that if, in the rare chance that the society is however unable or unwilling to care for an infant, it may be eradicated. The arguments John T. Noonan, Jr. and Mary Anne Warren present exhibit the two extreme sides to the abortion debate. While Noonan favors a conservative approach to the issue, Warren supports a more liberal stance. Both share some compelling reasoning, however I do not agree fully with either position. Although I align with Mary Anne Warren’s overall defense of the woman’s ultimate right to choose, I do not agree with her defense of infanticide or ending a late term pregnancy simply because a woman has the ability. I believe abortion is too late once the baby is able to survive outside the mother without needing artificially sustained incubation and that only situations of vital importance seem appropriate after this time. With full-term pregnancy around 9 months, the mother should have plenty of time to arrange what option is best for her and her baby. Regardless, I do not accept government restrictions on abortion because, like previously expressed, I feel women have the ultimate right to body autonomy and that the government should not be involved in that decision. In fact, I think that government regulations on abortion is plausibly dangerous and forces desperate women to dire solutions by inhibiting access to safe and legal abortions. Nonetheless, I believe that the argument raised by John T. Noonan, Jr. is deeply narrow-minded. Despite his confidence in probabilities determining humanity, Noonan ironically focuses on only the positive potential of the fetus, however there are other situations apart from abortion that can be capable of making a negative impact. While he does acknowledge abortion in the case of rape, he fails to address the capacity of social concerns that could bring the potential of a grim or even destructive quality of life for the fetus. For example, in the plight of a physically or emotionally abusive relationship, the woman may feel trapped by her abuser. If she is unable to seek asylum, a child could be involuntarily born into and susceptible to the abuse. Conception at a time where the mother is unable to provide for the child can diminish the potential quality of life for all involved. In this day and age, sex is not solely saved for reproduction and its possible for accidents to happen. If the mother is trying to make a successful life for herself and falls pregnant at a detrimental time, her future and, consequently, the future of her child is at stake. The cycle of poverty is hard to conquer and children are at its mercy. Another issue is that of drug addiction, which is seldom a choice. If a struggling addict falls pregnant, the child’s health will be threatened as well as their future. The exposed baby faces the possibility of being born chemically dependent or developing an addiction due to genetic influences. Furthermore, poverty and addiction are two issues that not only affect those directly involved, but also compromise our society. Crime rates and incarceration tend to correlate with these issues and bear upon taxpayers, along with conceivable welfare and recovery costs. While unfortunate, these situations are very real problems and potentially set the child up for failure. This is where the morality of abortion becomes manifold because, as Noonan stressed, the fetus is simply unable to defend or speak for itself–therefore relying on the mother’s discretion. Additionally, if our moral decisions are based on accounts of probabilities like Noonan says, one could argue that the act of choosing abortion–instead of subjecting a child to bitter awareness of resentment or disaffection–could be considered a moral act out of consideration for the child’s well-being. Rehashing Mary Anne Warren’s stance, the rights of the mother take precedence over the potentiality of a fetus, which is why it is dependent on the mother to make decisions in its’ best interest. Vindicating the ethical argument for abortion, this notion of mercy killing could potentially save the child from a life of unwarranted suffering it would have otherwise not known.